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U.N.-Backed Polio Vaccination Campaign Moves Forward In South Sudan

“Up to 3.2 million South Sudanese children have received vaccinations against polio in a United Nations-backed campaign to ensure the new country remains free of the deadly disease, more than two years after the last case was reported,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The three-phase campaign, which is being coordinated by South Sudan’s health ministry and backed by UNICEF and the WHO, will continue with additional immunizations next month, according to the news service. “Polio … re-emerged in South Sudan in April 2008, but after an intensive vaccination campaign, no new cases have been reported since June 2009,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/14).

Health Of Millions Of Children In East Asia, Pacific At Risk Due To Climate Change, UNICEF Report Says

“Climate change is expected to worsen the plight of millions of children in East Asia and the Pacific who already lack food and clean water and are vulnerable to disease, … UNICEF said Monday … in its report (.pdf) ‘Children’s vulnerabilities to climate change and disaster impacts in East Asia and the Pacific,'” AlertNet reports. “‘Higher temperatures have been linked to increased rates of malnutrition, cholera, diarrheal disease and vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria,’ putting children at far greater risk of contracting these diseases and succumbing to their complications, the report said,” the news service writes.

Pollution Threatens Health Of Chinese Population, UNEP Report Says

“The pollution that has accompanied China’s spectacular rate of economic growth will have dire health consequences for its population, the United Nations has warned in a report,” the International Business Times reports. “Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), told media that already hundreds of thousands of Chinese people have suffered respiratory illnesses or died prematurely due to the heavy smog that envelops some cities in the country,” the news service writes.

U.N. Appeals For $5.5M To Fight Cholera In DRC

The U.N. and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working to fight an outbreak of cholera that has infected more than 17,000 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) need an additional $5.5 million to help their efforts, Elisabeth Byrs, a spokesperson for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said on Friday, the U.N. News Centre reports (11/18). “The U.N. says donations received will go toward improving water and sanitation and providing medical assistance for victims,” the VOA “Breaking News” blog writes (11/19). “This $5.5 million is really urgently needed because the rainy season is set to begin,” Byrs said, Agence France-Presse notes (11/19).

WFP Says More Than 1M Zimbabweans Will Need Food Aid Through March 2012

More than one million Zimbabweans will need food aid between now and March 2012 because of poor harvests and food prices out of reach for vulnerable families, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said Monday, the Associated Press reports (11/21). The agency “said it was facing a $42 million funding shortfall for food aid it planned to provide to vulnerable households in Zimbabwe’s hardest-hit areas until the start of the harvest season in March,” Reuters writes (11/21). According to a recent survey, “12 percent of the rural population will not have the means to feed themselves adequately during the lean season,” a WFP press release notes, adding, “Most at risk are low-income families hit by failed harvests, and households with orphans and vulnerable children” (11/21).

Increasing Food Supply Through Production, Trade Policies Necessary To Prevent Widespread Hunger

“If we are to succeed in alleviating poverty and providing the necessary framework for sustainable development on our planet, there is no more pressing need than ensuring the supply of affordable food for our people,” Pascal Lamy, director-general of the World Trade Organization, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” He continues, “There are two keys to tackling this problem, enhancing production — particularly in Africa — and ensuring that trade in food flows unhindered from the lands of the plenty to the lands of the few. Without immediate action in these two areas, there is a risk that hunger will become even more widespread, with many million more lives at stake” (11/21).

U.N. Makes Statement, WaterAid Releases Report On Sanitation To Coincide With World Toilet Day

“The United Nations independent expert on access to water and sanitation as a human right [on Saturday] urged States to allocate more resources to improving sanitation and promote efficient use of existing hygiene facilities, stressing that people are entitled to decent toilets,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘Lack of sanitation implies the loss of millions of school and work days as well as enormous health costs,’ said Catarina de Albuquerque, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, in a statement to mark the World Toilet Day, which is observed on 19 November each year,” the news service writes (11/19).

U.S., U.N. Food Agencies Downgrade Three Somalia Famine Zones To Emergency Status

U.S. and U.N. food agencies on Friday said three famine zones in Somalia had been downgraded to emergency status, as aid had reduced death rates, but “three other areas — including the refugee communities of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu — remain in the famine zone,” the Associated Press/CBSNews reports. The agencies “warn[ed] that a quarter million Somalis face imminent starvation, and that military battles are preventing food deliveries,” according to the AP (11/18). The U.N. Food Security Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) said in a statement, “Overall, food security outcomes remain the worst in the world, and the worst in Somalia since the 1991/92 famine,” Agence France-Presse notes (11/18).

Lancet Examines WHO Euro Health 2020 Initiative

The Lancet examines Health 2020, “a ‘process of consultation’ between WHO Euro and its 53 diverse member states” that “will build partnerships to tackle the complex determinants and drivers of health and health equity.” The Lancet writes, “With the region’s aging populations, increasing rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and spiraling treatment costs, the whole government must be brought in, alongside ministries of health and health systems, in a new ‘movement for public health, believes” WHO Regional Director for Europe Zsuzsanna Jakab. WHO Euro will hold a high-level meeting on Health 2020 on November 27 in Jerusalem, the Lancet notes, adding that “[t]he results of this meeting are expected to feed into WHO’s Executive Board meeting in January 2012” (Walgate, 11/19).

Significant Drops Seen In AIDS-Related Deaths, New HIV Infections, UNAIDS Report Shows

UNAIDS on Monday released its World AIDS Day Report 2011 (.pdf), “which shows more people than ever living with HIV, but deaths and new infections steadily dropping,” the Guardian reports (Boseley, 11/21). The number of AIDS-related deaths in 2010 was 21 percent lower than its peak in 2005, and the number of new HIV infections in 2010 also was down 21 percent from its peak in 1997, according to the report, BBC News notes (11/21). The report credits more widespread treatment, behavior change and male circumcision for significant drops in the number of new cases, according to the Guardian (11/21). “Of the 14.2 million people eligible for treatment in low- and middle-income countries, around 6.6 million, or 47 percent, are now receiving it, UNAIDS said, and 11 poor- and mid-income countries now have universal access to HIV treatment, with coverage of 80 percent or more,” Reuters notes, adding, “This compares with 36 percent of the 15 million people needing treatment in 2009 who got AIDS drugs” (Kelland, 11/21).